Several Arrowtowners are leading the charge against the roll-out of 5G technology in Queenstown, however telco Vodafone believes they’re misinformed.
In August, Vodafone NZ announced its 5G network would start in parts of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown next month, enabling faster download speeds and greater data capacity.
Hearing the news, Arrowtown mother Georgia Todd had concerns 5G technology would require transmitters every 150 to 300 metres, with the radiation from their electromagnetic fields affecting people’s health and diminishing bird and insect life.
She also fears trees, such a feature of Arrowtown, will need cutting down to make the technology work.
She and friends started a Facebook group, ‘Questioning 5G for Queenstown’, launched a petition, ‘Halt 5G in Queenstown & Arrowtown area’, and last Sunday hosted a public meeting in Arrowtown addressed by two experts on 5G’s health effects.
New councillor Niki Gladding, who also spoke, urged a delay in implementing it, and was critical that public consultation had been removed by a law change.
Speaking to Arrowtowner Wayne Foley says: “It’s really critical that everybody’s made aware that the evidence that’s available points to this being a really, really dangerous and bad thing to have in your environment.
“And we would like reassurances that the countries and communities that have banned it are all wrong, and that the installers are all right.
“In addition to the lack of consultation, part of the challenge is we don’t believe that [telcos] are able to prove that it doesn’t have health implications.”
Vodafone spokesperson Nicky Preston say the technology’s only arriving in the resort next month via three 5G-enabled Queenstown sites – in the downtown, airport and Frankton areas.
The telco’s planning to upgrade about 1550 cell sites across NZ in the next three years, she confirms, but in urban areas they’ll be at least one to two kilometres apart – “often more”.
“We have yet to finalise plans in Arrowtown, but expect to upgrade a couple of existing sites in 18 to 24 months’ time to be 5G-enabled.”
Preston says “decades of research and thousands of scientific studies” indicate that radio waves used by mobile phones, including the frequencies used for 5G, don’t pose any risk to human health.
She recommends a ‘Why 5G isn’t a health hazard’.
Preston adds that Vodafone has no plans to cut down trees in the Queenstown Lakes area.
– PHILIP CHANDLER